‘Bristol variant’ of Covid – how to get a surge Covid test

Most student postcodes are affected

Surge testing is taking place all across Bristol in response to the identification of mutant variants of the Coronavirus, and the areas targeted include a couple of dozen postcodes, including students areas.

The newly christened “Bristol Variant” has the same makeup as the Kent variant that spreads much faster, although it also has an extra mutation, differentiating itself slightly from the Kent Variant.

This new Bristol mutation has now spread to the United States, with the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirming a case just yesterday.

Vaccines are thought to still be effective against these mutations, but The Independent reports that there are concerns among health professionals at the speed of which the virus is mutating.

With surge testing ongoing across Bristol, The Bristol Tab went along for a test to see how the process works (the reporter lives in one of the eligible postcodes). You are likely to be contacted by the NHS if you live in one of the areas highlighted on the map below, although you can and should go to a test centre yourself, but only if you have no symptoms.

Source: Google Maps

The University of Bristol has also sent out an email with some information to students who may be affected by this scheme, and encouraged as many as possible to take part. The surge testing will be ending this Sunday as Coronavirus cases have fallen across the city.

The closest postcode testing centre for most students is at 17 Wellington Road, BS2 9DA, the link is here. It’s a 15-20 minute walk from Cotham, just past Cabot Circus and off the main road.

There are huge signposts indicating the location of the testing centre, and stewards in hi-vis jackets are there to guide you.

Once at the address, stewards direct members of the public to where they can pick up a test kit.

The testing centre is open from 9am – 5pm, and is relatively quiet by the end of the day if you’re worried about a queue. There is NO BOOKING needed so you can just walk in whenever you have a free moment or two.

There is plenty of capacity at the testing centre, so it is unlikely to ever be much of a queue and you can even get tested from inside your car.

This surge testing is no different to a normal test; it is a PCR test that most of us have done before. You’ll be seated at a table and given a sealed bag with everything you need inside. (Be careful of the hand sanitiser at the front door, its very liquid and shoots out like a jet!)

After doing the test, you’ll hand the bag back to the stewards outside and then you will have to register the test online with the NHS, which takes under five minutes. You can register after the test here.

The main take away from this is that getting a test here is very easy and hassle free. The support staff are lovely and reassured me that they had plenty of capacity – the day I went they had processed nearly 600 people.

Coronavirus cases across Bristol are currently at 163 cases per 100,000 people, whereas on January 1st, it was 311 per 100,000 people.

More information from the City Council can be found here.

Support from the University can be found here.

Featured image from University of Bristol testing, not surge testing where photography was not permitted.

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